Sunday, October 28, 2012


It was a busy Saturday in Rome for the Lund's. We had a tour of the underground and upper portion of the Colosseum scheduled for 9:30, so we started out early and had breakfast at a small cafe across the street from the Colosseum.  What a nice way to start our day-the view doesn't get much better than this!

With our tickets in hand, we were glad to skip the long line that was forming.  We made our way to the "tour waiting area",  here we are:

Our guide was a young Roman woman (she made sure that we understood she was ROMAN, not Italian!) who was very well versed in the history of the Colosseum.  Her English was superb, but she spoke fast with an Italian accent, so I didn't quite catch it all.  Not that I would retain much, anyway..........

When Dave and I visited the Colosseum last year, we were only able to see the main level.  With this tour, we could go the the "dungeon" level as well as the very top 3rd level.  

Here's a view looking down into the bottom level:

 This is looking straight out into the many "cells" in the lower level.   The main arena floor was originally above this level:
 Another view:

 Arched passage way around the perimeter of the bottom level:

Here we are on the 2nd level of the Colosseum:

 Our guide spent a great deal of time telling us about the history of the Colosseum and how it was used. After we finished the lover level, we briefly explored the middle level.  This view is about half way up the stairs to the 3rd level:

 From the 3rd level looking out over Palatine Hill, and the Arch of Constantine:

 Looking south west over Palatine Hill, you can just see some columns of the Forum in the lower right.

This is the Temple of Venus:

Look at these beautiful trees!  Forum columns in the lower left:

Taken looking out from the 3rd level.  Originally there were 2 more levels, but they have been lost over the years.  You can see the remnants of those other two levels here.

From the 3rd level looking down--what a view:

We spend about 2 hours at the Colosseum, and really enjoyed our tour.  Our plan for mid day was to visit Campo de Fiori ("Field of Flowers"), stroll around to enjoy the market, and then have lunch at one of the many cafes around the square.

This is just one of the many flower stalls--beautiful colors!

This stall had a fall display of pumpkins and gourds:

Delicious looking fresh veggies, everything looked so good:

There was even entertainment in the form of street musicians.  This guy was quite a character, and yes, that is a wine bottle at his feet, and he would sing a little, then drink a little.  I think he drank more than he sang!  He did play a mean accordion, though!

We looked at menus of a few of the cafes, choosing one with reasonable prices and an interesting menu. We were not disappointed!  We ordered three dishes to share--bruschetta, salad and a pizza.
The bruschetta was delicious, and the salad was a great mix of greens with salami "cups" filled with a cream cheese mixture.  The pizza was wonderful, as usual!  Of course, I added a glass of house red wine!

Our plan for the rest of the afternoon was to just wander, doing a little shopping and popping into interesting looking churches.  Just in the first block or so, Matt spotted a sign for the Leonard da Vinci Museum--which we had wanted to see but had not been able to find (not surprising, I know!).  Dave and I had visited one in Venice last year, and we were just blown away to learn of da Vinci's many inventions.

The museum in Rome is in a large palace that surely used to be the home of a wealthy Roman family--it was really pretty.  This is the inner courtyard:

Did you know that da Vinci had the idea for a music box?  Here's a model of his invention--Matt is turning the crank to make the music.

There were working models of several of his inventions, including flying machines, ball bearings, hygrometer, hydraulic saw, eccentric cam, worm screw, rolling mill, oil press----the list goes on and on!

 This was my favorite--the odometer.   Read the description on the left--brilliant!

We spent almost an hour exploring, and came away in absolute awe of this brilliant man--what a genius!

We continued our stroll, heading in the general direction of our apartment.  We happened upon another of those wonderful water fountains.  I especially liked this one--notice the tassels:

David had read about the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church, we were nearby so decided to check it out.  It was very plain on the outside:

 But OH, MY the interior is stunning!  It was built in 1280, and is Rome's only Florentine Gothic church.  This view is near the entrance, looking towards the altar.  The ceiling colors were still just brilliant:

There were many stained glass Rose Windows--this one was especially beautiful:

A closer view of the altar:

One of the many side chapels:

Ceiling in one of the small chapels:

This is Michelangelo's statue "Risen Christ".  It is most unusual as it depicts Christ nude-but with a strategically placed gilt-bronze loin cloth.

Another of the small chapels, beautiful sculptures on a black background:

Large stained glass window near the Sacristy:

In the piazza in front of the church stands this very interesting statue and obelisk.  It was designed by Bernini and carved by his students:

 We continued along, turning down interesting streets.  Another street musician, a delightful smiling gentleman.  He was quite accomplished on the accordion, too!

 We didn't go into this church, but I really like the elegant facade:

This beautiful ornate church is right around the corner from our apartment.  I'm hoping we'll have time tomorrow to have a look inside:

We made a quick stop at the Despar supermarket--the one that we had such trouble finding our first night.  I probably shouldn't admit that it's only a couple of blocks from our apartment--and we still couldn't find it!  We picked up a few items for our supper tonight.

A quick 1/2 block and around the corner, and we're home.  Well, almost home--we still have those 4 flights of s-t-e-e-p stairs to climb.  What was I thinking when I chose an apartment on the 4th floor?? (actually it's on the 5th floor by our standards--in Europe they don't count the ground floor) Never again!

Our dinner tonight was simple, but yummy.  We'd been looking at the prosciutto, so decided tonight was a great time to give it a try.  Good stuff!  We also bought some Provolone cheese--just OK, very salty and a much different texture that we usually get.  The yellowish cheese next to the wedge of Provolone was a new one for us, Caciocavallo Affumic-a deeeelicious smoked cheese.  We sliced up a crisp green apple, added some great crusty bread,and finished our left-over romanesco from last night,  It's even good cold!  Oh--and a glass of really good red wine.  Mmmmmmm, a good dinner again!

 Another busy, fun day exploring Rome's treasures.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rome.  We fly to Paris early Monday morning.   Our plan is to go to St. Peters's Square, and hopefully get a glimpse  of the Pope blessing the crowd.  We can all use a little blessing!

Good night from beautiful, fascinating Rome!


  1. It's just not fair . . . you showing pictures of all that yummy cheese. I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms! My one piece of swiss cheese pails in comparison. Santa Maria Sopra Minerva - what a beautiful church. The Rose Windows and the ceiling were awesome. After all that walking I imagine that 5 flights of stairs would just about do you in! Glad the rain didn't drown you during your travels today. It's raining here today, too. I watched 3/4th of the BSU game. At that time we were ahead by about 20 points so I imagine we won the game (4 players injured). Miss you guys and can hardly wait to introduce you to 360 Double Chocolate Vodka when you get home. (At least there will be something to look forward to upon your long trip home.....) Hi to Dave and Matt.

  2. What a great picture of Matt and you (Di) sitting together at a cafe before the trip to the Colosseum. You always get such wonderful pictures of chapels and even filling your water bottles is fun at the fountains. The fruit and veggies and gourds...beautiful. Your meals looks inviting. You always seem to get a musician in a photo too. You all look so happy traveling and seeing all there is. You take fantastic pictures...breathtaking ones!

  3. Amazing pictures. Looks like you are all having a great time!